In Arts + Entertainment

An Inside Look Into Hart’s Hill And The Revitalisation Of Port Adelaide

As grunge turned cool, so did Port Adelaide.

Like St Kilda was for Melbourne, Port Adelaide was known as a notoriously run down, no-go zone. But as time progressed, so has Port Adelaide’s image. As grunge turned cool, so did Port Adelaide.

It’s one of the city’s oldest suburbs with an eclectic mix of working class people and now young people embracing its blue-collar heritage – as it’s transforming into a revitalised, historic maritime precinct with joint multi-million dollar investments by the State Government and the City of Port Adelaide Enfield Council.

People have embraced the port

A revitalised Port Adelaide.

Walk down just about any street in the Port and you’ll be struck by the contrast, where old meets new. It has warehouses, old pubs, renovated cottages, newly built apartments, enviable riverside housing developments and a shopping strip.

And, it’s one of Port Adelaide’s finest historical buildings that has led this identity shift.

Harts Mill, a purpose-built flour mill listed on the South Australian Heritage Register, has survived two generations of flour milling. It was regarded as one of the best, with ‘Hart’s Flour’ commanding the highest prices in Australia.

The South Australian Government commissioned Aspect Studios, a local architectural company, to turn Hart’s Hill into a ‘usable landscape for locals and visitors to enjoy.’

Renewal SA was the department responsible for rejuvenating the Port. The Hart’s Mill precinct upgrade is part of Renewal SA’s $7.2 million ‘early activation’ program, which includes upgrades to Commercial Rd and St Vincent St and is 50% funded by Port Adelaide Enfield Council.

A closer look at the sky-high art work.

The Government’s efforts to attract more people to the Port have brought in huge crowds to local events. In 2017 alone, the Wonderwalls street art festival attracted more than 15,000 people in one weekend, more than 57,000 people to Winterfest over 10 days and 8,000 people enjoyed the international St Jerome’s Laneway festival.

This music festival follows a nation-wide circuit and in 2014, event organisers chose Hart’s Mill for its Adelaide location, after outgrowing the UniSA West ‘laneways’ on North Terrace. The reclaimed industrial space matches the independent ambience of the festival.

Thousands of 20-somethings flocked to Hart’s Mill, meandering the creative nooks of the converted millhouse. Punters grouped around the two main stages watching the headliners, some choosing to laze around on the smaller grassed areas near the food trucks and makeshift bars – alongside the glistening river water. It’s proved to be a music and art lover’s mecca.

Wonderwalls street art festival.

The redevelopment of Hart’s Mill has included refurbishing both the Flour and Packing Sheds for community and exhibition use, heritage maintenance, landscaping its surrounds and the creation of an award-winning playground.

With plans to continue to evolve Hart’s Mill into a world-class cultural centre with galleries, cafes, workshops and theatres, the transformation of the Port precinct will follow suit.

Hart’s Mill and the wider development of the region holds a unique history – with a culture that lives on. The Project recognises the Kaurna people as the original custodians of the Port Waterfront, the Port River and the Hart’s Mill precinct. Hart’s Mill and the Adelaide Milling Company buildings stand on ancient shell middens where, for centuries, people had come to share stories and food.

Preserving history

Wonderwalls street art festival.

It all started to change five years ago with the Port Adelaide Precinct Plan. More than 5,000 people had their say, leading to a community vision of ‘live, work and play in the Port.’ The vision outlines potential investment of more than $1 billion, including a promenade and pedestrian bridge and an information centre.

Last month, new announcements were made for Cruickshank’s Corner, a fishing, retail and tourism precinct. This coincides with the start of work on a residential, commercial and tourist development at Dock One, also on the inner harbour.

Stephen Mullighan, the State’s Housing and Urban Development Minister, believes it’s a prime, but under-utilised, inner harbour location.

Brunch at Folklore Cafe.

“The Southern Sea Eagles’ vision has the potential to transform this site into a busy commercial fishing precinct which could, in turn, attract other business and commercial interest,” he said.

“It will also generate new retail and tourism activity as residents and visitors come to Cruickshank’s Corner to buy fresh seafood, have a bite to eat at the café or take a stroll along the promenade.”

A new, privately built Five-Star Green offices project is also underway, alongside early works on the $16.4 million rail spur and train station that’ll bring passenger trains back into the Port itself (for the first time in almost 30 years).

“We have worked hard to strike the right balance between attracting more people to live in Port Adelaide and ensuring that any developments are in keeping with what the community wants for the district”, Mullighan said.

The Loop cycling path.

“With major festival and events, new office buildings and hotels we’ve been focused on bringing more and more people to the Port. Now, through these redevelopments, we can entice more people to actually live in this unique area and keep growing the Port’s economic and social vibrancy.”

Port Adelaide isn’t the only pocket of the city on the cusp of change. Bowden, rubbing shoulders with the city’s West End, has also come to life with Renewal SA’s flagship development. The precinct’s historic, gritty charm is also celebrated through the use of recycled materials, and natural colour palette for buildings and streetscapes.

As the Government continues to focus on mini-character cities, life in Adelaide is looking a whole lot different.

While aspects the Port’s robust character may linger, it’s a place undergoing major gentrification creating a more trendy than tough Port Adelaide.

(All images: Our Port

Published 18 January, 2018